Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest maker of phone equipment, signed a sponsorship deal with a rugby league team in Australia’s national capital as it fights a ban on bidding to work on the country’s broadband network.
The two-year agreement, Huawei’s first major sports-team sponsorship worldwide, will put its logo on the front of playing jerseys for the Canberra Raiders for the rest of the 2012 season and next year, the Shenzhen, China-based company said in a statement today.
The deal follows Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s defense yesterday of her government’s decision to tell Huawei not to bid for work on the network because of “national interests.” The Chinese company’s expansion plans in the U.S. and Australia face opposition from lawmakers, who have cited security concerns because of alleged links to China’s military, an accusation Huawei has denied.
Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei after his retirement from the Chinese army, had offered to limit all employees on the broadband project to security-cleared Australian citizens, open up its software code, and undergo a full audit of security measures.
The company said it’s working on eight broadband networks similar to Australia’s in the U.K., Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Benin and Brunei, and hasn’t been asked for security concessions in those markets.
Huawei didn’t say how much it was spending on the sponsorship. The agreement is worth about A$1.7 million ($1.8 million), the Sydney Morning Herald reported today, without saying where it got the information.
“It’s good for us at the moment to be able to say Huawei is here for the long term,” Luke Coleman, a Sydney-based spokesman for Huawei, said by phone today. “We’ve partnered with an iconic rugby league team, which shows that we’re investing for long-term growth in the Australian market.”
The Raiders are the only team based in Canberra from the National Rugby League.
Rugby league is the nation’s third-most attended sport, trailing only Australian Rules football and horse racing, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
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